50,000 people help to locate soldier

Lauren Dewhurst from Stanley street in Ilkeston.
Lauren Dewhurst from Stanley street in Ilkeston.

A staggering show of support from the general public has seen a letter from a Royal Marines commando, sent to the wrong address in Ilkeston, finally get to his godson.

When a package without a name arrived at Lauren Dewhurst’s home last month, containing the letter, a camouflage hat, two military badges and a black and white photo of a cigar-smoking soldier, she was determined to get it to its rightful owner.

Picture of Ben Procter sent by mistake to Karen Dewhurst in Ilkeston

Picture of Ben Procter sent by mistake to Karen Dewhurst in Ilkeston

The letter was addressed to his young godson Joseph and referred to time the commando had served in Afghanistan.

But, unable to make out the commando’s signature, she had a big task on her hands and began knocking on every door on her road in Stanley Street.

The few neighbours who were at home did not know Joseph, so the mother-of-two uploaded a quick photo of the package’s contents to social media site Facebook.

To her disbelief, within eight hours the picture had been shared 37,500 times, including on the Ilkeston Advertiser’s and the Royal Marines’ pages.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Lauren, 28.

“I didn’t imagine that would happen at all.

“I thought, to be honest, it would go around my friends and nothing would come of it.

“But then it got nearly 40,000 shares. It was incredible.”

And just 24 hours later, after the number of shares topped 50,000, dozens of messages of support and friend requests from people Lauren had never met flooded in, a former comrade recognised the soldier as Ben Procter, who he had served alongside in 2009.

He put her in touch with Ben but it was an agonising 24 hours before Ben replied to her message.

“I kept thinking, ‘Where is he? Is he even alive’,” she said.

“But then he inboxed me, saying, ‘Wow, thank you so much – what a fantastic thing to do’.”

It turned out the package had been meant for a house four doors down from Karen where Joseph’s grandfather lives.

He had not been home at the time but Lauren has now handed him the package.

Thanking everyone who helped along the way, she added: “It’s just been like a big puzzle –someone even researched the history of who lived in our bungalow before us!

“I’m so glad it will finally get to Joseph now.”